Traveling to distant countries is sometimes an unforgettable experience like being in the middle of a rainforest with its noises, its biodiversity and the humid heat or observing elephants and lions in the wild, or even going to the discovery of crocodiles. Before traveling it is important not to forget to prepare for the presence of tropical diseases. This is mainly due to their danger. Here you can find out what are the typical symptoms of a tropical disease and what are the aspects to take into consideration.

Tropical diseases: map showing the spread of malaria.

Typical symptoms of a tropical disease

Anyone who falls ill during or after a trip to an exotic country should be careful as the cause could be a tropical disease. One of the main symptoms that signals its presence is fever. In fact, virtually all tropical diseases involve an increase in body temperature. It is possible that it is a mild fever of 38 degrees or a severe fever of 40 degrees. Additional typical symptoms for a tropical disease are :

  • pains in the limbs
  • feeling of exhaustion and problems concentrating
  • diarrhea and / or vomiting

If after traveling to a distant destination you experience any of these ailments, you should consult a doctor immediately . For the diagnosis it is important to know where and for how long the stay took place. This is because, even within the same country, the infectious risk for tropical diseases, such as malaria, can be very different.Good to know: A tropical disease can have incubation times ranging from a few weeks to several months. In addition, illnesses such as the flu or a flu-like infection can have the same symptoms as indicated above. In order to be able to clarify what causes the complaints, the doctor usually submits the person to blood tests.

The main tropical diseases

It should be made clear that the risk of contracting a tropical disease for a tourist is much lower than that of the local population. The omnipresent pleasure of traveling that the people of Central Europe have for faraway destinations means that cases of infection are regularly recorded . The two tropical diseases most often transmitted by mosquitoes are: malaria and dengue fever. Both diseases are present in tropical areas around the world and have the same symptoms such as fever, pains in the limbs and nausea. The intensity of the symptoms of the disease and its course can vary. In fact, dengue fever usually has a course without complications, while malaria can be fatal and must be treated in a hospital.

Other tropical mosquito-borne diseases are Zika virus infection, yellow fever, West Nile fever, and chikungunya fever:

  • An infection with the Zika virus involves ailments similar to those of a normal flu and has a course that does not present particular problems. The disease is widespread mainly in South America, Central America and Southeast Asia and becomes dangerous when it infects a pregnant woman. This is because the Zika virus is capable of causing permanent damage to the fetus’s brain.
  • The yellow fever in the first phase of the disease may have fever, headache and nausea. Only in about 15% of cases does the disease develop in a second phase. This is the stage where damage to the nervous system and internal organs can occur. The disease is present in Central America, South America and in African countries with a tropical climate.
  • Even the West Nile fever is very similar to the flu. Towards the end of the disease, a rash occurs in half of those affected. As a rule, recovery from West Nile fever occurs without the need for any therapy. This type of infection is present on all continents.
  • The main features of chikungunya fever are fever, pains in the muscles and joints, as well as blotchy rashes. This tropical disease, present in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, usually heals on its own. Only rarely does joint pain persist for a few months or even years.

Compared to this, however, parasitic worm infections are not a rare thing. The so-called creeping eruption or serpiginous dermatitis (larva migrans) is in fact a disease that can be contracted by walking barefoot on the beaches of the Caribbean, in Africa, in South East Asia, in the Maldives and in some areas of the Mediterranean. The larvae penetrate under the skin through the sole of the foot and cause a reddish rash. In these cases it is recommended to undergo a therapy with a remedy against parasites.

Here’s how to protect yourself from tropical diseases

By taking some of the following precautions , travelers can reduce their risk of becoming infected with a tropical disease:

  • Find out at least three months before the start of the trip about the health situation of your destination. Get the recommended vaccinations, including vaccine against hepatitis A and B, yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes – day and night. A good anti-mosquito , the mosquito nets and long dresses are appropriate countermeasures.
  • It is advisable to avoid walking barefoot on the beaches frequented by dogs and cats and to avoid bathing in warm pools of fresh water. These are in fact the places where you risk easily falling prey to parasite larvae.

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